Who knew a walking weed could be so loveable? Or that the chubby dude from Parks & Rec could ab-crunch his way to leading man status? And who discovered the comedic genius that is Dave Bautista? 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy crammed in these surprises like spring-loaded snakes in a can, bursting out with plenty of awesomeness to distract us from its weak bad guy and limp climax. Vol. 2 can’t reload that can and expect the same giggly claps of amusement. Fortunately, writer-director James Gunn does almost everything else bigger and better.
Even the opening scene improves on the original’s, showing off a deliriously fun one-shot fight/dance battle set to the tune of ELO’s Mr. Blue Sky. It looks amazing, as does every other frame of the film. Not only does Gunn make the galaxy look like a rainbow exploding in slow motion, his still framing of particular action sequences soak in like a comic panel in motion. I also appreciate seeing a villain who is much more than Loud Angry Blue Guy.
The story has a lot going on. The Guardians are on the run from a hilariously self-absorbed race of golden beings; Peter runs into his real father (Kurt Russell) who happens to be a living planet; Gamora’s sister Nebula is planning some sisterly revenge; and Drax becomes best buds with a whimsical sort-of-telepathic creature named Mantis. It occasionally feels like the film pulls the handbrake to let some of these subplots move past, except for Yondu’s – he goes through some major tragedy early on that provokes one hell of a character turn.
There’s only one major setback Vol. 2 doesn’t quite overcome – the camaraderie. Just like Vol. 1, we see very little team bonding and too much team bickering. The five major characters still feel more like a group of agitated co-workers than actual friends, so when the film preaches the line “We’re Family™,” it feels less like a genuine remark and more like plagiarism from the Fast & Furious series. If Gunn can install a better sense of respect within the core Guardians, Vol. 3 could be Disney-Marvel’s Bohemian Rapsody.
‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ Movie Times | 3D Movie Times